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No. 143

Would-Be Messiahs


WikiLeaks Benefits Israel


Amish Seek Forgiveness


£ 2.50

& Rain January 2011 |

printed in Israel


4 6 7

Shalom Haverim,


Dear Friends,

Aviel Schneider and the isra­el today editorial staff


DiCaprio, Refaeli to Build House in Israel

Arab Press



‘Jewish Jaws’ Terrorizes Sinai!


10 What Motivates Palestinian Terror? Focus on Jerusalem

11 Palestinians Deny Jewish Claims to Temple Mount Environment

12 Let It Rain, Let It Rain, Let It Snow! Word From Jerusalem




14 Act Your Age

15 The Havdalah Service The Land

16 Firestorm on the Carmel Debate

18 The Spirit of the Age Prophecy

19 Israel’s Role in the End Times Christians

20 Amish Seek Forgiveness from Israel Messianic Jews

21 ‘Post-Zionist Theology Is Attack on God’s Character’ MILITAR Y COVER - BURNED UP: The Carmel Forest in northern Israel

Looking at Israel, many people must be wondering how the nation is able to cope with the constant stress, year after year. Prior to the rains that finally began to fall in December, the country suffered through nine months of drought. Seven months ago, we had the controversial flotilla affair, and now the huge forest fire in the North. A week after the fire came a big storm with damaging winds and waves, which seemed to reflect the political situation: constant international pressure for a freeze on construction in Jewish settlements, the failure of the US to get Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, and sporadic rocket and mortar attacks from the Gaza Strip. Then there is the controversial ruling by 50 Orthodox rabbis that forbids Jews to rent or sell property to non-Jews—or to put it bluntly, Arabs. The move was condemned by Israel’s two chief rabbis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and Holocaust survivors who said it is “un-Jewish” and anti-democratic. Their position can be summed up as: “Israel must be a light to the nations” (Isaiah 49:6). There is even tension in the Messianic community, with disputes over doctrine, theology and expression. Nobody wants it that way but it happens because we are human. Why does God allow His people to suffer so many troubles, be they natural, political or religious? People abroad tend to find different answers to this question than those who live here. But there is one thing on which we can all agree: The darkest hour comes just before dawn. From Jerusalem, we wish all our readers a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Would-Be Messiahs WikiLeaks Revelations Benefit Israel Hike of Horrors

22 Dancing Soldier Gets Jail Time ARCHAEOLOGY


23 Layers of Civilization Culture

24 My Private Superstar Nature

28 Stone Throwing at Biblical Zoo Economy

29 IMF Gives Israel High Praise In Brief

30 Harry Potter’s Grave 31 Star of David in Iran


Publisher: nai – israel today | Founder of nai: Ludwig Schneider | Editor-in-Chief: Aviel Schneider | Co-Editor & Art Director: Michael Schneider | Senior Editor/Correspondent: Shlomo Mordechai | Editor: Barry Rosenfeld | Website/Staff Writer: Ryan Jones | Managing Editor/Director of Marketing: Lorraine Rubinow | Administrator: Daniel Goldstein Biblical Commentary, Word from Jerusalem, Debate, Prophecy: Ludwig Schneider | Politics, Focus on Jerusalem, Arab Press: Aviel Schneider, Ryan Jones | Messianic Jews, The Land, Profile, In Brief: Michael Schneider, Tzvi Sadan | Military, Tourism, Nature, Archeology, Jewish Affairs: Netanel Doron | Christians, Diaspora, Culture, Economy: Judith Jeries | Islam: Victor Mordechai | Text Advisor: Dov Chaikin | Financial Director: Anat Schneider | Translator: Judith Jeries, Beverly Bayliss | Graphic Designer: Pavel Permyakov, Larisa Kaplan Israel Today magazine – a monthly publication from Jerusalem | 1 Year Subscription: $43 US, IL ,CAD/ £30 UK / $49 US all other countries • 2 Years: $75 US / £53 UK / $86 US all other countries • 3 Years: $99 US / £70 UK / $115 US all other countries • IT Electronic Edition (1 Year): $25 US / £18 UK /$25 US all other countries | Contact information: Israel Today, 1 Shmuel HaNagid St. P.O. Box 7555 Jerusalem 91074, Israel | Tel: +972.2.622.6881 | Fax: +972.2.622.6882 | TOLL FREE ORDERING: 1.866.854.1684 (North America) | 00.800. (UK/Norway/) | | (subscribe online)


One Catastrophe Leads to Another N

ine months with no rain, and then a huge forest fire in the Carmel Mountains rages for four days. Many people are asking what Israel has done to deserve two catastrophes, one right after the other. In the worst natural disaster in modern Israel’s history, half of the Carmel Forest in northern Israel—some 15,000 acres—was destroyed along with 5 million trees; 44 people were killed. Police say the fire was started by negligence: A youth threw coals from a water pipe he was smoking into the forest, and in the dry and windy conditions, the Carmel quickly turned into a monstrous inferno. Then, another tragedy struck. A bus carrying prison guards to a rescue mission at a nearby jail was trapped in the flames and 42 cadets were burned alive. As the fire spread, more than 17,000 people were evacuated; dozens of homes were destroyed and damage is estimated at $550 million. Israel was caught totally unprepared—it did not have a single firefighting plane and it was badly understaffed. There are only 1,250 firefighters in Israel, or one for every 7,000 people. In Europe, the ratio averages one to 400. For years the Fire Department and government watchdogs have warned that Israel is drastically unequipped, but to no avail. As the saying goes, “Nothing is ever done in Israel until there is a catas-

WILDFIRE: The blaze devastated one of Israel’s few natural forests and found the nation woefully unprepared

trophe.” So in the wake of the disaster, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the creation of a new aerial firefighting force and the purchase of three state-of-the-art planes. Many people said, “It’s too little, too late.” Then came the soul searching. Orthodox rabbis warned that the fire was a judgment from God for abandoning the commandments of the Torah, and a call to repent. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, said in a sermon that the desecration of the Sabbath was the cause of the blaze. “Not every event has prophetic significance, but in this case I believe it does because of the way the rains have been withheld in Israel for nearly 10 years,” said David Decker, a pastor and meteorologist who lives in Israel. He explained how in a large wildfire the heat can increase wind speeds, creating what is called a firestorm. “Israel has never had a true firestorm,” Decker told isra­el today. “There just isn’t enough vegetation.” Except for atop Mt. Carmel, but only if it is unusually dry. Considering the severity of the drought (Israel’s worst on record since the establishment of the state in 1948) and the enormity of the Carmel fire, Decker believes that if this occurred in Bible times, “it would definitely have merited a few verses in Scripture.”

Some Arab commentators said the fire was a punishment from Allah for Israel’s “theft” of “Palestinian” land. “Many lessons will be learned from this divine fire, and the lesson that is most prominent is that the demise of this [Zionist] entity is just a matter of time,” read an editorial in Palestine Today. Others urged Hezbollah and Hamas, and their sponsors in Syria and Iran, to attack Israel while it was distracted battling the flames. The media sought to lay the blame on Netanyahu and other officials. But the failure clearly lies with successive governments in what could be summed up as “national lethargy.” Forest fires happen in far-away places like California, not in sparsely-wooded Israel. “When will we finally understand that God is not someone we can call on only when we need Him,” a religious firefighter named Jacky told us. “Imagine for a moment if a fire of this magnitude had broken out during a war!” While Israel got assistance from 20 countries to douse the blaze, it cannot depend on that in the future, especially in a time of war. Commentators wondered what Israel would do in the event of a massive missile attack from Iran. “How will Bibi [Netanyahu] continue to plan an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities—an act liable to provoke a missile war on an enormous scale never before seen in the world—without giving a shred of consideration to Israel’s ability to put out fires?” asked Ben Caspit in the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv. Against that background, many people perceive the fire as a warning sign from heaven. Y By Aviel S chneide r & Ryan Jones


Would-Be Messiahs


n the minds and hearts of the Jewish people, the coming of the Messiah means the redemption of Israel from all adversity and the advent of peace. This makes the role of the Messiah a coveted assignment, and in every generation there are those who arise to claim it. Some approach it from the religious or Orthodox perspective; others through more contemporary movements such as the New Age. Last summer I was sitting and talking with a religious Jew, and I happened to mention a note left by the late Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, who died in 2006. In it he identifies the Messiah using six words, indicating that combining the first letter of each reveals his name. This turns out to be none other than the biblical name of Jesus—Yehoshua/ Yeshua (see israel today, April 2007). The man with whom I was speaking then turned to me, and speaking very seriously, explained that Kaduri had been referring to him: “I am the Messiah, for my name is Yehoshua—which is the same name as Yeshua, Jesus.” This surprising turn of events in a casual conversation shows how common these claims are. Some proclaim themselves as the Messiah, while others proclaim their teacher, rabbi or guru the Redeemer. One notorious example is the ultra-Orthodox Chabad movement, which has proclaimed the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson to be the Messiah. Since ancient times, the Jewish people have sought to identify the Redeemer of Israel as revealed in the Bible. “The phenomena of the Messiah, Messianic prototypes, potential Messiahs and false Messiahs are part of Jewish history,” Messianic Jewish historian Tsvi Sadan told israel today. “According to Jewish tradition the first Messiah was actually Noah, who saved the world. The first Messianic prototype was Joseph, who ruled the world. Then the first potential Messiah was King Solomon, who ruled the land in righ4  |  January 2011 |

teousness and peace. A prototype of the false Messiah can be seen in Nimrod, the first ungodly king.” For more than two millennia, various Jews have claimed to be the longawaited Messiah. In 4 BC, a former Herodian slave named Simon of Peraea arose, led a rebellion and was killed by the Romans. In the Book of Acts, Rabbi Gamaliel refers to the false Messianic movements of Theudas and Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:35-37). After them came Bar Kokhba, Yitzhak Ben Yaakov alIsfahani, David Alroy, David Reubeni, Shlomo Molcho, Shabbetai Zvi and Jacob Frank. Even Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, was seen by some as a Messianic figure. The trend has continued in the State of Israel. For more than two years, a 31-year-old man named Arkadi has been sitting in the middle of the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, proclaiming himself the Messiah of Israel. Wearing a long, biblical-style robe he calls out to passersby: “You are sinning and turning away from God! If you do not turn back to God, the Almighty my Father will punish you.” When he gets no response he starts to rant and rave: “You idiots, when are you going to start listening to me? Instead of following and obeying God, you are serving the Golden Calf!” Every Friday, before the Sabbath, you can find him in the center of town preaching to the crowds. Now and then, if scuffles break out between Arkadi and his disgruntled listeners, the police intervene; but most people simply ignore him.

REPENT! Arkadi on the streets of Tel Aviv

Arkadi is not the only one. A blackand-white poster projects the image of yet another messiah, this one an unnamed Orthodox rabbi whom no one seems to know. Printed on the poster is “God’s word” to the nation of Israel, as proclaimed by this preacher: “The current parliament, Israel’s 18th Knesset, will be the last! Israel’s next government will be the government of the Messiah!” This rabbi’s posters can be seen in almost every Israeli town, pasted on billboards and road signs. “The battle over Jerusalem has begun,” he warns. “Soon, all the Islamic states and all the Christian countries, including Europe and the US, will gather to make war against Jerusalem!” He warns of earthquakes, wars and many other end-time catastrophes. He also calls on the people of Israel to cast those “impure television” sets out of their homes. You are permitted to listen to the radio, but only to religious sermons and teachings.

‘THE WORD OF THE LORD to Israel from the Messiah’

One of the funkier proclamations came from kinetic energy healer Oren Zarif, 33. In a Ha’aretz newspaper interview a year and a half ago, he declared that Channel 10 TV personality Yaron London is the Messiah. Zarif said he had a dream in which he saw London riding through the streets on a white donkey and blow-

Politics ing a large shofar (ram’s horn), heralding the redemption. Zarif even contacted an advertising agency to launch a campaign to crown London as the Messiah! Zarif is something of a messianic figure himself. He has clinics in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem where he treats the sick using a form of kinetic healing. In daily newspaper advertisements, those who claim to have been healed enthusiastically share their testimonies, calling it “miraculous.” Some say he has supernatural powers, which the Messiah alone could possess.


Rabbi Yisroel Dov Ber Odesser (1888-1994) of Tiberias (on the Sea of Galilee) once claimed messiahship in a YouTube video. Also known as Reb Odesser and Sabba, Hebrew for grandfather, he claims that he received a letter from heaven that came directly from Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Rabbi Nachman, who is the spiritual head of the Breslov Hassidic movement that has a large following in Israel, died 200 years ago. The letter was said to reveal a remedy for the world’s ills which consists of repeatedly singing a song honoring Rabbi Nachman and writing his name in public everywhere. Rabbi Nachman also promised to reveal a new medicine for the healing of all sickness and sorrow in this world. Odesser may be dead but his followers are convinced that he is the Messiah. “Sabba is the King of Israel, and gradually all Jews will come to accept

Finally, there is self-proclaimed Messiah Goel Ratzon, 55, of Tel Aviv. Until an Israeli court indicted him a year ago on charges of rape, enslavement, incest and sodomy, this guru with long white hair and beard lived with about 40 women. He was married to at least 19 of them and had 49 children. According to the charge sheet, Ratzon created a cult where he was treated as a savior who was omnipotent. He had “magical influence” over the women and enforced draconian rules with punishments and beatings. He is also accused of having sexual relations with his daughters.

‘I AM THE KING!’ Rabbi Yisroel Dov Ber Odesser

this,” a Breslov Hassid from Tiberias told us. “Our Rabbi Sabba performed wonders that can only be done through the power of the King.” Another “messiah” who has already died is Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994). He was head of the Hassidic Chabad movement for more than four decades and lived in Brooklyn, New York until his death. The Rebbe has a big following in Israel and a replica of his Brooklyn home has been built in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. After his death, many in Chabad declared him the Messiah of Israel. They hold a rally each year in which they await his return.

‘LONG LIVE THE KING MESSIAH!’ The late Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson


While it is easy to disregard the claims of these false messiahs, it begs the question: Why do the people of Israel continually long for someone who will set them free from all their problems? No doubt it is a combination of Jewish suffering and the biblical promises regarding the Messiah. In the modern State of Israel, another plausible answer is that the nation’s leaders have failed. Selfproclaimed messiahs tend to appear more frequently in times of trouble. A renewed Messianic hope seems most palpable at the time when the Jews are returning home to the Promised Land of their fathers. Indeed, it would be an indication of despair if the belief in the coming of the Messiah were to cease. Therefore, the appearance of false messiahs is a revealing sign. It means that the Jews have not given up their hope of redemption. Y By Aviel S chneider  |  January 2011  |  5


WikiLeaks Revelations Benefit Israel

MAN OF INTELLIGENCE: The US often consulted with former Mossad chief Meir Dagan SIN CITY OR HOLY CITY? Israel struggles with how to market itself


f Wikileaks did not exist, Israel should have invented this website,” wrote commentator Sever Plotzker in Israel’s biggest newspaper Yediot Ahronot. “The revelations draw a clear picture: not only Israel sees Iran as a danger, but also the whole world.” Among the quarter of a million classified US diplomatic cables exposed by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks were those showing that Arab fears of Iran’s nuclear program run just as deep as Israel’s. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, for instance, described Iran as “evil” and an “existential threat.” Jordan urged the US to attack Iran, and so did the Saudis who called on America to “cut off the head of the snake.” “That program must be stopped,” King Hamad of Bahrain was quoted as saying in one of the cables. “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.” Israel felt vindicated by the disclosures. “The greatest threat to world peace stems from the arming of the regime 6  |  Januarz 2011 |

in Iran,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “More and more states, governments and leaders in the Middle East and in far reaches of the world understand that this is a fundamental threat.” Nevertheless some US officials, like former Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer, were skeptical about Israeli assessments of how quickly Iran would be able to acquire a nuclear weapon, saying they should be “taken with a grain of salt.” But another document had outgoing Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Major-General Amos Yadlin telling two visiting US congressional leaders that “Israel is not in a position to underestimate Iran and be surprised like the US was on September 11, 2001.” The documents also showed that Israel remains an important strategic asset to the US, despite a growing perception that it has become a liability. The US intelligence and political communities regularly consult with Israeli officials, especially outgoing Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, seeking their expertise and insight on various situations in the Middle East and the war on terror.

In other cables, Israeli allegations that certain UN bodies have ties to Islamic terrorist groups were justified by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who ordered investigations of UN personnel in Lebanon and the Palestinian-controlled territories. “Washington wanted intelligence on the contentious issue of the ‘relationship or funding between UN personnel and/or missions and terrorist organizations’ and links between the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)… and Hamas and Hezbollah,” the British newspaper Guardian reported. UNRWA, which provides services for Palestinian “refugees,” is the recipient of enormous annual funding, but Israel says much of it ends up benefiting groups like Hamas. The three-week Gaza War which was launched to stop Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel was also the topic of numerous diplomatic cables. It was revealed that prior to invading the Gaza Strip, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak tried to convince either Egypt or the Palestinian Authority to step in and assume control of the territory after Hamas was defeated. Though Israel was accused of war crimes, this suggests that Israel’s endgame was to bring stability to Gaza. However, neither Egypt nor the Palestinian Authority were prepared to intervene in Gaza and end the destructive rule of Hamas. This is further evidence that Israel’s so-called “peace partners” are not truly committed to ending the conflict, fighting Islamic militancy or even improving the lives of the Palestinians. Israel may not be perfect, but the documents reveal that it is more honest than many other nations—and it means what it says. “If anything, the leaks were positive and did not damage Israel’s image at all,” former National Security Advisor Giora Eiland told Israel Radio. “There was no contradiction between what Israel has said in public and in private.” Y B y Rya n Jon e s


Hike of Horrors


wo believers, an Israeli off of me like a gentleman and Messianic Jewess born then stabbed me 12 times.” in the UK and her The knife did not hit her American friend, went out heart, so she played dead. She for a hike on a beautiful day could hear her friend being in the Judean Hills outside Jestabbed, but could do nothing rusalem, when they fell into to help her. When the assailthe hands of Arab terrorists! ants left, Wilson made a dash Kristine Luken of the US for a nearby road where she was brutally killed; Israeli A LIFE CUT SHORT got help and told her story to Kay Wilson was seriously Luken was an Evangeli- police. She was rushed to the cal Chrstian from the US wounded but escaped to tell hospital and her life was saved. After a massive all-night search for the tale. It began when the two young Luken, who was feared kidnapped, poArabs asked the women for water. lice found her body near the site of the “It all happened so fast,” said Wilstabbing. son. “Suddenly they attacked us, and Kay Wilson is a tour guide with one pulled out a long kitchen knife.” Shoresh Tours in Jerusalem, which opThey tied their hands and when erates under the auspices of the CMJ Luken became hysterical, the stabbing (Church’s Ministry among the Jewish began. “One of them turned me around People). That’s where she met Luken who and saw that I was wearing a Star of Dahas worked for CMJ in the US and UK. vid necklace,” said Wilson. “He took it

TERROR in the Judean Hills

“It is a tragedy that such a lively, caring and faith-filled person should have been struck down in such a way,” CMJ said on its website. “However, CMJ will continue to share the gospel with the Jewish people and to work for forgiveness and reconciliation in Israel. This is a mandate that God gave us 201 years ago and we are confident that [this is] the best epitaph we could give [to] Kristine.” Y B y S h l omo Mor de c h a i

Rabbis’ Edict Exposes Deep Divide A group of 50 city rabbis set off a storm when they issued a religious ruling forbidding Jews to rent or sell property to Arabs. They charged that bringing nationalist Arabs into Jewish neighborhoods leads to violence, intermarriage, and a drop in property values as Jews move out and Arabs move in. Organizations like Amnesty International quickly denounced the ruling as “racist,” and it was condemned across Israel’s political spectrum as “anti-Jewish” and “anti-democratic.”

Nevertheless, a poll conducted by Ynet found that 55 percent of Israeli Jews either fully or partially agree with the rabbis’ ruling, an indication that they increasingly see the Arab minority as a threat, not to mention the Palestinians across the Green Line. A second poll by the Israel Democracy Institute showed that 46 percent of Jews don’t want to live near Arabs and 53 percent of Jews believe the government should encourage Arabs to emigrate to other Middle Eastern countries.

RARE MOMENT OF UNITY: Rabbis, priests and Muslim clerics pray for rain

The poll found that Arabs hold similar views. Some 67 percent don’t want to live near religious Jews and 65 percent will not live near Jews who at any time lived in Judea and Samaria (settlers). These surveys point to a broader phenomenon in which Jews and Arabs are retreating into their own communities and have no mutual trust. This is happening despite peace efforts—and because of them. When PLO terror chief Yasser Arafat returned to the territories under the Oslo Accords of 1993, violence against Israeli Jews increased exponentially. That naturally eroded Jews’ trust for Palestinians and even Israeli Arabs, who openly sympathize with the Palestinian cause. The resulting Israeli security measures, in turn, irreparably damaged any trust Arabs had for Israeli Jews. Far from bringing the two sides closer to a genuine peace, the diplomatic process has further entrenched both sides in ethnic conflict and driven a wedge between Jews and Arabs. Y By Ryan Jones January 2011  |  7


DiCaprio, Refaeli to Build House in Israel


ctor Leonardo DiCaprio and his Israeli girlfriend, supermodel Bar Refaeli, are looking for a place to build a home in Israel. That way, when they visit here, and even perhaps tie the knot, they won’t have to impose on Rafael’s family which lives in Hod Hasharon just outside Tel Aviv. At the same time, they don’t want to be too close to the family, so they are thinking of the north or south of the country. DiCaprio, 36, was in Israel, along with his mother and actor friend Kevin Connolly to celebrate his birthday. In a previous visit in 2007, he got into a fight with paparazzi near the Western Wall in Jerusalem, in which three photographers were injured. This time several security guards accompanied the couple who arrived by private jet after a visit to Egypt, where they spent the week with supermodel Naomi Campbell. Y

PLANTING ROOTS? The superstar couple considers a move

CSI Creator Visits Israel


JEWISH GENIUS: Zuiker is the master of mystery

nthony E. Zuiker, the creator of the hugely popular American Television series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, came to Israel to present his vision for the new age of television at a media conference. “I find it archaic that I would force you to watch the show at a certain time each week,” said Zuiker, who is Jewish. “It’s over. Those days are gone!” He said entertainment must be adapted to include all forms of technology, such as cell phones and laptop computers. He dubbed it “cross-platform storytelling.” “Once the television show stops, someone could log in to CSI. com or and then watch little webisodes, and then maybe get more of the mystery on the mobile phone,” he said. “This, in turn, will drive them back to the next show on TV…We are in the golden age of television wrapped up in a great revolution.” Y

Argentina Recognizes ‘Palestine’


rgentine President Cristina Kirchner sent a letter to her Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas, saying that her country recognizes the State of Palestine. “The Argentine government recognizes Palestine as a free and independent state within the borders defined in 1967,” the letter said. Brazil and Uruguay have also recognized “Palestine,” in response to a Palestinian initiative for unilateral recognition following the collapse of peace talks with Israel. Ironically, in Argentina, Kirchner is seen as a good friend of the Jews. “We were and will be supported by Cristina,” said Argentine Jewish leader Aldo Donzis, after Kirchner was elected in 2007. “She is publicly committed to us; she was at Jewish demonstrations and celebrations and even spoke at Jewish events.” Y C ompiled by Ba r ry Rosen feld a n d Shlomo Mor dech ai

8  |  January 2011  |

FRIEND OF ISRAEL? Kirchner with Israeli President Shimon Peres

Arab Press

‘Jewish Jaws’ Terrorizes Sinai!


he picturesque Red Sea resorts at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula have suffered a number of shark attacks, casting a pall over an area that is famous for its pristine coral reefs. After four foreign tourists were badly injured and a fifth was killed by sharks, the Egyptian governor of the region, Abed alFadij, found a way to blame Israel. “We must not discount the possibility that the Mossad [Israel’s spy agency] threw the shark into the sea, in order to attack tourists who are having fun in Sharm al-Sheikh,” al-Fadij told the state-run egynews. net. “The Mossad is trying to harm Egyptian tourism in any way possible, and the shark is one way for it to realize its plan.” The plot thickened when Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli visited Egypt with her boyfriend, Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Asked by Israeli reporters whether she would ever go back there, she replied that “Egypt is a very primitive place.” That prompted a blistering editorial in the Egyptian newspaper al-Dustur, entitled, “An Israeli plan to harm Egyptian tourism through a supermodel.” “It’s part of Israel’s constant efforts to attack tourism in Sinai in a bid to make the tourists move from the Egyptian beaches to the Israeli beaches,” the paper said. “The Israeli press has taken advantage of the shark attacks on European tourists off the Sharm coast in order to convey, in different languages, the fear of the tourists visiting Egypt.” Despite being one of only two Arab nations officially at peace with Israel (the other is Jordan), the Egyptian media frequently portray the Jewish state as the source of all evil. Israel said the charges were so absurd that they don’t warrant a response.

Palestinian ‘National Band’ Lambasts Israel

arab Political cartoons


alestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has declared that Alashekeen is the new “national band.” This is significant because the band has risen to popularity due to its hostile lyrics toward Israel and the Jews. Alashekeen’s songs demonize Israelis as “despicable,” claim that all of Israel is “Palestine,” and urge Palestinians to “liberate” the land through violence and bloodshed. Alashekeen’s songs and dance performances are featured regularly on Palestinian Authority TV. This kind of incitement is explicitly forbidden in the roadmap peace plan but is systematically ignored by the world powers as they focus exclusively on the settlement issue.

’ISRAEL EATS AND BEATS the Islamic world’ Akhbar al-Khaleej (Bahrain)

ISRAEL BASHING wins respect

‘THE WESTERN MEDIA’ is blinded by Israel Al-Watan (Kuwait)

THE SWORD and the olive branch (Qatar)

Carmel Fire Propaganda


n an interview on Palestinian Authority TV, Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs Ziyad Abu Ein claimed that Israeli authorities deliberately took their time evacuating the Damon Prison atop Mount Carmel as the raging wildfire approached. “They created a lag and our prisoners were endangered,” he said, adding that had Jewish prisoners not also been present, Israel probably would have let the place burn down with the Palestinian inmates inside. In fact, the opposite is true; 42 Israeli prison guards were burned alive when their bus, which was on its way to evacuate the prison, was consumed by the flames.

C om pi l e d by Rya n Jon e s  |  January 2011  |  9


What Motivates Palestinian Terror?


t is a common assertion by the media and world powers that poverty and economic hardships brought on by the “occupation” are key factors that motivate Palestinian terrorism and hatred of Israel. A doctrine promoted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and international Middle East envoy Tony Blair suggests that if Israel facilitates economic prosperity and freedom of movement in the Palestinian territories, it would create a better atmosphere for peace talks and reduce the Palestinian motivation for violence. Well, Israel has removed dozens of roadblocks and there is an economic boom in the Palestinian Authority, yet the Palestinians won’t even negotiate with Israel because of Israeli construction in the “settlements.” “Economic peace is an illusion,” said Palestinian Economics Minister Hasan Abu-Libdeh at a joint news conference with Israeli Minister of Trade and Industry Benjamin Ben-Eliezer in Jerusalem. Abu-Libdeh went on to say that there could not be peace unless every Jew is evacuated from Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. “Settlements are illegal and

THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL? A study shows that ideology, not poverty, is the motivation for Palestinian terror

they are hampering the peace process,” he said. “Israel has to choose between peace and the settlements.” Yet Palestinian designs go beyond the settlements to the State of Israel itself. This is evident from their demand for the “right of return” of millions of Palestinian “refugees” and their descendants to their former homes in Israel. This pillar of Palestinian nationalism has been categorically rejected by all Israeli governments, both left and right, because it would lead to the demographic destruction of the Jewish state. Against this background, a Palestinian researcher concluded that ideology—not economy—is what motivates Palestinian acts of terror. A study by Bassam Yousef Banat of Al Quds University in East Jerusalem found that many Palestinian terrorists had a col-

lege education, were from middle-class families and had jobs. “As for talking about psychological, social and economic factors and other motives for martyrdom, it is wrong to associate Palestinian martyrs with these factors since this underestimates the real value of a martyr,” wrote Banat. He said suicide bombers are motivated by Islamic fundamentalism and Palestinian nationalism. Ultimately, and this is forgotten with all the talk about the peace process, the struggle is over Israel’s right to exist in its biblical homeland. “Martyrdom…is a logical extension of the Palestinian struggle which has been ongoing for more than 100 years,” Banat wrote. “It is an expression of a Palestinian popular awareness of the depth and nature of the conflict with the Jewish existence in Palestine.” Y By Ryan Jones

180,000 Palestinians Treated in Israeli Hospitals

UNSEEN COOPERATION: Palestinians benefit from Israeli health care

midst all the media reports about Israeli “occupation,” A “apartheid” and “oppression,” one would never know about a significant humanitarian effort that is happening behind the scenes: In 2010, more than 180,000 Arabs from the Palestinian10  |  January 2011  |

controlled territories were treated at Israeli hospitals. This was disclosed by General Nitzan Alon, the commander of Israeli forces in Judea and Samaria, at a conference on humanitarian medicine at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. This is a sea change from the years after the Second Palestinian Intifada (uprising) erupted in 2000. “Hundreds were killed, Jews and Palestinians alike,” Alon said. “We could not practice medicine beyond the minimum. In those days, we were on the verge of a humanitarian crisis.” But thanks to a lull in violence, due in large part to Israeli security measures, the situation has improved. “Ultimately, this is a rewarding experience,” said Dalia Basa, medical coordinator of Israel’s Civil Administration which deals with Palestinian civilian affairs. “There are people who see me on the street or in hospitals…and say, ‘You saved my son’s life.’ When you get home at the end of the day and examine your life, you know that you saved lives. You By Ryan Jones know you did a lot of good.” Y

Focus on Jerusalem

Palestinians Deny Jewish Claims to Temple Mount


ne of the most telling stories to come out of the spectacular failure of the Camp David Summit in 2000 was Yasser Arafat’s rejection of a generous peace deal because he refused to recognize Jewish historical ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. Then Prime Minister Ehud Barak, to the horror of many Israelis, had offered to divide Jerusalem, with the caveat that Jews would maintain control of the Western Wall, the last remnant of the biblical Temple. To the astonishment of their host, former President Bill Clinton, Arafat rejected the proposal on grounds that there never was a Temple at the site, which he claimed is wholly Islamic and has no connection whatsoever to the Jews or the Bible. Former US envoy Dennis Ross later said that Arafat was not only refusing to compromise but also determined to “deny the core of the Jewish faith.” Ten years later, Arafat’s longtime protégé and deputy, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, is following suit. The Palestinian Ministry of Information published a “study” claiming that the Western Wall is an integral part of the Mosque of Al Aksa and Haram al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary), the Islamic terms for the Temple Mount. “This wall was never part of the socalled Temple Mount, but Muslim tolerance allowed the Jews to stand in front of it and weep over its destruction,” wrote the study’s author Al-Mutawakel Taha. “During the British Mandate in Pales-

REWRITING HISTORY: A Palestinian ‘study’ says the Western Wall is an Islamic site

tine, the number of Jews who visited the wall increased to a point where the Muslims felt threatened.” The study concludes that “no Muslim or Arab or Palestinian had the right to give up one stone” of the Western Wall. Taha ignored the mountains of archeological and written evidence that affirm ancient Jewish life and Temple worship in Jerusalem, not to mention the Holy Bible itself. “This is not the sort of statement to be expected from a partner in peace,” said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. “Denying the Jewish connection to the Western Wall is to deny reality. If you deny the Jewish connection to the Western Wall you are in fact denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel itself.” Even the US, which has mostly blamed Israel for the impasse in the peace

process, issued a sharp condemnation of the Palestinians. “Regarding a claim… that the Western Wall is an Islamic Waqf [property], we strongly condemn these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive and highly provocative,” said State Department spokesman PJ Crowley. The danger is that much of the international community is buying into the anti-biblical Palestinian narrative. In October, UNESCO declared that Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem is a mosque and it demanded that Israel remove the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron from its list of National Heritage Sites. The head of the Jewish settlement in Hebron, Noam Arnon, responded that the Tomb of the Patriarchs “was a Jewish site thousands of years before Islam ever existed.” Y By Ryan Jones

Bible Quiz rivate Refael Meyuchas, 24, of the coastal city of Netanya, P is the winner of the National Bible Quiz for Adults in Jerusalem. Hundreds of people attended the event, including Prime

SOLDIER AND SCHOLAR Netanyahu congratulates the winner

Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Saar. “Our objective is to arouse interest in and study of the Bible,” said Saar. And there’s nothing like an incentive, so Saar presented Meyuchas with a prize of 30,000 shekels ($8,300). The moral of this story is that the Bible is a treasure in more ways than one! Y  |  January 2011  |  11

-E n v i r o n m en t

GALE-FORCE WINDS AND WAVES caused damage, but the rains were a blessing

Let It Rain, Let It Rain, Let It Snow! ISRAEL OR SWITZERLAND? The ski resort on Mount Hermon


fter nine months of drought and the terrible Carmel forest fire, the heavens finally opened up and it rained, poured, howled and snowed. The storm was fierce. Gale-force winds wreaked havoc on the Mediterranean coast, ravaging restaurants and stores on the beachfront and causing millions of shekels in damage. Inland, trees were toppled and homes flooded. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the thirsty land finally got some precious rain. There was 9 inches (230 mm) of rain in Upper Galilee and nearly 7 inches (169 mm) on the Golan Heights. And the biggest blizzard in 20 years struck Mount Hermon on the Golan. The upper peaks got more than 6.5 feet (2 meters) of snow and the lower part nearly 4 feet (120 cm)—and all that in just 24 hours! The Mount Hermon ski site was opened several weeks ahead of schedule, bringing tens of thousands of visitors anxious to see the rare spectacle of snow in the arid Middle East. But after 10 years of below average rainfall the precipitation was just a drop in the bucket; it will do little to solve Israel’s catastrophic water shortage. The storm only added about 8 inches (20 cm.) to the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s biggest reservoir, where 12  |  January 2011  |

Jesus walked on water. The lake is still about 16 feet (5 meters) below capacity. The Mountain and Coastal Aquifers are also badly depleted. Some attribute the drought to global warming; others to God’s judgment. But for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, the storm was an answer to prayer. Rabbis had called a special day of fasting and prayer for rain. Messianic congregations and churches have been praying for rain. And in a rare sign of unity, rabbis, priests and Muslim clerics held a joint service to pray for rain (see picture page 7). The rainy season lasts through March, with the wettest months in December, January and February. So there’s still hope and time to pray for God to open the heavens and bring more rain! By Shl omo Mordechai Y GLOBAL WARMING? The fierce storm follows a decade of drought

Jesus in Modern Hebrew Culture

‘Strange Death’: Yigal Tumarkin


igal Tumarkin was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1933. In 1935, his parents left for Israel in the wake of Hitler’s rise to power. Tumarkin is a well-known artist, painter, sculptor, stage designer, book illustrator and writer. He received the prestigious Israel Prize for sculpture in 2004. Between 1982 and 1984, Tumarkin’s works explored the themes of death and injustice in light of the First Lebanon War. One of his sculptures bears the title MITA MESHUNA. The choice of Latin rather than Hebrew script allows the caption to refer both to “Strange Death” and the literal “Strange Bed.” The sculpture is carved in the shape of a dirty, blood-soaked military stretcher, symbolizing premature death upon a strange bed. The stretcher is suspended from a horizontal wooden beam, forming the shape of a cross, with its two wooden handles nailed to the beam creating the impression of the twisted arms of a hanging body. The

THE CRUCIFIED JEW as seen by an Israeli artist

words “MITA MESHUNA” are written on the beam, an obvious allusion to the INRI sign nailed to the cross. The stretcher is wrapped around with a black cloth where the loins would normally lie, while a torn Israeli flag and

piece of white cloth hang from either side of the beam. This gloomy image is a piercing criticism of the Israeli government, which, in Tumarkin’s eyes, sent its soldiers off to die in an unjustified war. The theme of the crucified Jew is, of course, not new to Jewish art. Perhaps the best-known piece in this regard is Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion, which bestows a unique meaning on the killing of Jews in the pogroms of the early 20th century. Tumarkin, however, is not directing his ire against anti-Semites but rather against other Jews who dare to carry out what he sees as the ultimate act of injustice: sending young, innocent soldiers to death without cause. Tumarkin employs the symbol of the cross as it is depicted in the New Testament—an ultimate act of Jewish injustice that leads to Israel’s own demise. This message is enhanced not only by the stretcher, but also by the abused flag, and the white cloth representing both the shroud and surrender. This Jewish “crucifix” is getting a lot of exposure. MITA MESHUNA is on display at “The Israeli”— the Israel Museum’s new, permanent exhibition. Y B y Ts v i Sa da n

Hidden Treasures

What Is so Special about Abraham? B y Ts v i S a d a n


he story of Abraham begins with a man named Abram. But a careful reading of Genesis 12-13 does not reveal a spectacular man of faith. True, it takes faith to leave one’s home and go to a strange country—but lots of people do this all the time. We call them “immigrants.” Furthermore, when Abraham encounters his first real crisis in the new land (famine), he flees to Egypt. Then, fearing for his life, he hands his wife over to Pharaoh. Jewish tradition says Abraham overcame 10 temptations: 1) breaking the idols of Ur; 2) leaving his father’s house; 3) going down to Egypt; 4) giving his wife to Pharaoh; 5) the covenant between the pieces (Genesis 15:17); 6) Sarai’s barrenness; 7) circumcision; 8) Giving his wife to Abimelech; 9) sending away Hagar and her son; and 10) the sacrifice of Isaac. The list is a virtual inventory of Abraham’s most precarious moments, so how can it be said that Abraham “overcame” these temptations? The rabbis concluded that each

temptation was accompanied by a miracle that enabled him to overcome it. Paul says Abraham is “the father of all those who believe” (Romans 4:11). Yet his character as represented by Scripture begs the question: What is so special about Abraham? One answer derives from the verse: “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created” (Genesis 2:4). The phrase “when they were created” is a single word in Hebrew —behibaram. Even an untrained eye can discern the name “Abraham” in this term. Rearranging the Hebrew letters, Rabbi Joshua ben Karakha said, ‘Behibaram—beAbraham: Because of Abraham [the world was created]” (Beresheit Rabba 12:9). According to this explanation, Abraham is Adam’s replacement. He mends what Adam broke, namely, full and innocent trust in God. Scripture compels the reader to conclude that God’s grace ruled over Abraham’s life. God’s compassion toward the human race ensured that Abraham would come through his temptations triumphant. Y  |  January 2011  |  13

w o r d f r o m je r u s a l e m

Act Your Age By Ludwig Schneider


ife is a blessing no matter how old we are. Every stage is special in its own way, but to take advantage of if we simply need to act our age. Yet many people perpetually mourn the loss of their youth, while kids long for the days when they will be older and out of school. Life, of course, consists of childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. As believers, we should accept each stage as a gift from God. We should be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11) in such a way that is appropriate for our years. Growth means that we are continually changing. While children grow physically, believers must continue to grow spiritually. This is why Paul complains, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). It is natural for children to play and horse around. It is natural for teenagers who are passing through adolescence to struggle with their emotions and sexuality. It is natural in middle age for our careers to take priority, and it is also natural for those who have retired to look back over their lives. All of these things are healthy when they occur at the stage 14  |  January 2011  |

of life when they are supposed to, but it is not healthy when older people behave like children or when children act precociously. For example, it is inappropriate during a worship service for adults to chit-chat like teenagers. Spiritually, it’s as if adults stop eating solid breakfasts like eggs and toast, and have turned to sweetened cereals served with milk. Jesus says that “unless you…become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He does not mean by this that we should remain immature and childish, but rather depend on God like kids depend on and trust their fathers; and as inferred by the text, we should be humble and not fight among ourselves as to who is the greatest. One key sign of spiritual maturity is stability, while a sign of immaturity is wavering. Some believers who have been in the faith for 20 years or more seem reluctant to grow up. One day they are on top of the world, while the next they are in the depths of despair, schlepping from one counseling session to the next. Congregations and elders need to serve milk for beginners and solid food for those who are more advanced—in other words, a plain, unsweetened biblical message that may at times be difficult to receive. People should not attend congregations and services to be entertained but to be challenged

to grow in the Spirit. Anything else is fleeting piety. Each stage of life has its particular role because growth does not end with childhood. It progresses on through the experimental years of adolescence, and into the productive years of adulthood and on through retirement. Older believers can pass on their spiritual legacy to the youth because they have experienced failure and learned from their mistakes. Healthy congregations provide both milk and solid food that don’t have an expiration date; they prepare the faithful for eternity. Y

Torah Portions January 2011 (from 25th Tevet to 26th Shvat 5771) The Sabbath (Shabbat) Readings January 1st

Shabbat Va’era – And I appeared Exodus 6:2-9:35; Ezekiel 28:25-29:21

January 8th

Shabbat Bo – Come Exodus 10:1-13:16; Jeremiah 46:13-28

January 15th Shabbat Beshalach – When He Sent Exodus 13:17-17:16; Judges 4:4-5:31 January 20th Tu B‘Shvat – New Year of the Trees January 22nd Shabbat Yitro – Jethro Exodus 18:1-20:23; Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6 January 29th Shabbat Mishpatim – Ordinances Exodus 21:1-24:18; Jeremiah 34:8-22 33:25-26


SEPARATING THE SACRED from the profane

The Havdalah Service A Blessing of Separation


habbat (the Sabbath) falls on the seventh day of the week and is dedicated to the Lord. Just as God rested after six days of labor, we too should honor this day by refraining from work and sharing in the Lord’s rest. The Sabbath eve is ushered in with the Kiddush, the traditional blessing over wine. The following evening, Shabbat is ushered out with Havdalah Service. Havdalah means separation, marking passage from the consecrated Sabbath rest to the routine workaday week. According to the Talmud, Havdalah takes place when three stars appear at the end of the Sabbath. A wine goblet is placed on a plate alongside the besamim or spice box. It can be filled with any of nine fragrant besamim (spices) including fennel, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, black pepper, anise and cinnamon. Another centerpiece is the braided Havdalah candle, usually about a foot (30 cm.) long, which is placed in a candleholder. First the wine goblet is filled to overflowing, which is why it is placed on a plate. The silver spice box is crafted with a filigree design creating openings through which the fragrant spices can be smelled. Then the braided candle is lit, producing a blazing flame since it consists of thinner candles and thus has several wicks.

The overflowing goblet is raised and this blessing is recited, with an emphasis on salvation: “Behold, God is my salvation [in Hebrew, the world for “salvation” is yeshuah, from which the name Yeshua, or Jesus, is derived]. I will trust and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and song and He has become my salvation (Yeshuah). You shall joyfully draw water out of the wells of salvation (Yeshuah)…I will lift the cup of salvation (Yeshuot—plural) and call upon the name of the Lord.” WINE, FIRE AND SPICE mark the end of the Sabbath

Then the blessing is said over the wine: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” Then the blessing is said over the spices: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates a variety of spices.” After this is the blessing of the candle: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates the light of the fire.” The overflowing goblet is raised and these words are said: “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who creates a distinction between the holy and the profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six days of labor. Blessed are You, O Lord our God, who separates the holy from the mundane.” The person who recites the blessings drinks the wine but leaves some in the cup. Holding the Havdalah candle over the plate, he extinguishes it with the remaining wine. He dips his fingertips in the wine on the plate and wishes everyone, “Shavuah Tov!”—“Have a good week!” According to Jewish tradition, the three elements of the service are symbolic: Wine: God’s blessings must overflow from us and reach out to others. Candle: Our light must outshine the wisdom of the world, and then it will be seen by our fellow men. Spice Box: We must be a sweet-smelling fragrance in the world. In the New Testament, the nine fragrances can be compared to the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and the nine gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). In the Old Testament, the High Priest appeared before God in the Holy of Holies with nine golden bells sewn to the hem of his garment representing the gifts of the Spirit, and nine golden pomegranates symbolizing the fruits of the Spirit. The fruits and gifts of the Spirit set us apart from the world, separating the holy from the profane and sanctifying us as the people of God. Y By Ludwig S chneider  |  January 2011  |  15

THE FIRE FELL and consumed the trees (1 Kings 18:38)

Firestorm on the Carmel

OUT OF CONTROL: Drought and wind fanned the flames

SATELLITE VIEW: The smoke could be seen all the way to Cyprus

COUNTING THE COST Residents return home in the artist village of Ein Hod

SUPERTANKER: This American 747 helped turn the battle against the flames

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE: A Russian jet releases 42 tons of water

SKELETAL REMAINS: 42 rescuers were incinerated when their bus was trapped in the flames

HOT JOB: Israel is drastically short of firefighters

FOREIGN AID: Israel did not have a single firefighting aircraft of its own

82-Hour Inferno

To assist in the reforestation of the Carmel, see page 26!

• 44 dead, more than 30 injured, some critically • 17,000 people evacuated from 5 residential areas • 15,000 acres of forest consumed • 5 million trees burned •  247 homes destroyed •  1 youth who had smoked a water pipe threw a coal into the forest setting off the blaze • 7 copycats tried to spark additional fires • 19 countries helped to extinguish the flames supplying aircraft, firefighters and chemical retardants. They included Britain, France, the US, Russia, Turkey, Greece, Jordan and Egypt. • 32 aircraft were, at times, simultaneously in the air • 3 fire engines and 21 firefighters came from the Palestinian Authority • 7,200 tons of water were used during the mission  |  January 2011  |  17


The Spirit of the Age

FIRE AND BRIMSTONE: Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah and became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:24-26)


t seems that there is nothing quite so fleeting as time itself. And nothing can stop the passage of time. Whether we want to or not, we have to submit to the times and seasons—even to the end times though many do not believe in it. Neither the good nor the evil can escape the end times; when it is the 11th hour time is running out, whether we like it or not. The end times are not intended to frighten us, but rather to warn us and wake us up. It is a time that has special significance for us, now. Once the morning, midday and evening are behind us, the next thing to occur is midnight. That is how we define each day. For some people midnight is the spine-chilling bewitching hour, while for others it is the beginning of a new day. Believers should not be afraid of the end times. For those 18  |  January 2011  |

who have put their lives in order with God, it promises a transition into a new era of the Kingdom of God. During the end-time transition, humanity will be shaken up in every conceivable way, by wars and natural disasters, by godlessness and false prophets, so that the wheat will be separated from the chaff. The Flood was an end time event and so was Sodom and Gomorrah. And the days of Noah and Lot have an important thing in common: The people did not believe that judgment was coming—just as it is today. It was even difficult for Noah to get his own family to enter the ark. Remember that they had to be inside the vessel for seven days before the first raindrops fell. It must have been a great challenge for Noah to explain this to his wife and

three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives, because he had no proof for his theory of the “Great Flood.” And so it is in our time: “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away” (Matthew 24:37-39). We can imagine Noah’s family moaning and complaining about standing out so starkly from their friends and society. But God only approached Noah, not those around him. This tells us that we should not compare ourselves with the world, but instead be obedient to God. Our situation today is similar to Sodom and Gomorrah. Perversion is out of control. When what is obviously perverse is declared as the norm, and when those who condemn perversion have to justify their views in court, then we are right in Sodom and Gomorrah, where they attacked Lot because he sought to protect his visitors from the perverse advances of his neighbors. The fact that Lot’s wife looked back as they were fleeing does not only reflect her desire to see the clouds of smoke over Sodom and Gomorrah; it also expresses an unconscious wish to return to her old world in which sin was permissible. Lot was supposed to proclaim the God of Abraham to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, but instead he became one of them. It was only Abraham’s intense pleas that rescued him from God’s judgment. This saying became true of Lot: A non-smoker who sits among smokers will eventually smell of smoke. Thus, in the end, Lot’s life in Sodom and Gomorrah clung to his soul. One positive sign of the end times, which Yeshua (Jesus) tells us about in Luke 21:29-33, is the appearance of the fig tree, Israel; when it begins to bud and leaves start to grow—there is no mention yet of fruit—the Kingdom of God (the coming of the Messiah) is near. The question is whether or not we believe God, and whether we will allow ourselves to be rescued as did Noah and Lot. Y By Ludwig S chneider


Israel’s Role One People in the End Times Y

eshua (Jesus) often spoke in parables, and there are 39 of them in the New Testament. Parables are customary in the Middle East in general and in Judaism in particular; the rabbis of the Talmud often used them to explain their insights. Since parables are a form of riddle, we must rely on God’s Spirit to give us the power to understand them. In this way, their inner truth is revealed. Parables can be described as precious gems filled with the mysteries of God. In the Bible, the fig tree is often used to symbolize Israel (e.g., Jeremiah 8 and 24; Hosea 9), and the man who sits under the fig tree is described as “an Israelite indeed” (John 1:47). One of the end-time teachings of Yeshua is the parable of the “ripening fig tree” which appears in all three gospels (Matthew 24:32-34; Mark 13:28-30 and Luke 21:29-32): “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He [the Son of Man] is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this genTHE FIG TREE is a symbol of Israel and the last days

eration will not pass away until all these things take place.” Yeshua emphasizes that the fig tree would have tender branches and green leaves, in other words there is no fruit yet. We cannot accuse the fig tree of being barren since its season for fruit only begins later on. Therefore, this parable should not be confused with the parable of the “unfruitful fig tree” that the owner wants to cut down (Luke 13:6-9). This also refers to Israel, but the vineyard keeper asks for more time to prune the barren fig tree so it will bear fruit. The ripening fig tree describes Israel’s situation at the time of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. This is the beginning of the Exile and the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), the period when Israel undergoes a “partial hardening” (or blindness) for the sake of the nonJews. This period would last until the “fullness [full number] of the Gentiles” comes into the Church of God (Romans 11:25). When the times of the Gentiles nears its end, the fig tree that was believed to be dead will suddenly show signs of life,

by producing fresh branches and green leaves. During this transitional period, between the partial hardening of Israel as the unfruitful fig tree on the one hand and the full number of the Gentiles on the other, Israel will be seen as the ripening fig tree, just as Yeshua said it will be in the end times. The Lord speaks here of a generation, or a race, that will not pass away until all these things take place. The Greek word, which Martin Luther translated in German as race, is genea, which means generation. If we take into account the Hebrew linguistic root, the Greek hè genea autè means “generation” in the sense of descendants or race. This means that the Jewish race will not pass away until everything that God has promised has been fulfilled. This in turn corresponds to God’s promise in Jeremiah 31:34-36 that the descendants of Israel—in spite of their failures—will never pass away as long as the moon and the stars continue to exist. All other interpretations, for example that Jesus was speaking of the generation in His time, would imply that the promises of God have already been fulfilled. Even the view that this passage refers to the first generation (40 years) after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 is limiting Jesus’ words in an unrealistic manner. These parables relate to one and the same fig tree, which was unfruitful for a fixed period of time and presumed dead, but then—at the end of that period—started to produce fresh green buds again. Assuming that the fig tree represents Israel in Yeshua’s parables, the term “generation” refers to race because the Jewish people have survived throughout the ages. Therefore, Israel’s renewed existence as a Jewish state in its ancient, biblical homeland is a sign that Jesus is coming soon. Y By Ludwig S chneider

January 2011  |  19

C h r i s t i an s

Amish Seek Forgiveness from Israel



n an apparently unprecedented move, a group of Amish Christians from the US made widespread use of technology—including airplanes, tour buses and even iPhones—in order to come to Israel and ask forgiveness of the Jewish people. The Amish are notable for shunning modern conveniences, from television to cars. But they made an exception in a bid to bring reconciliation between their community and Israel. The Amish, both in the US and Europe, have a long history of anti-Semitism and have traditionally been firm proponents of Replacement Theology, which claims that

God cast aside the Jews because of their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. Many Amish once believed the Holocaust was God’s punishment, and some even applauded Hitler. “We are here to say we are sorry,” group leader Ben Girod told Israel’s Channel 2 television as the group visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. “God reminded me that this is not who He is. We no longer want to reject you or look at you as not being God’s people. You were God’s people long before we were.” A man named Jonas read Psalm 121:4 to the group, reminding them that “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” “Our people have had some bad attitudes toward the Jewish people and have rejected the Jewish people to a certain extent,” Jonas said. “We have come to restore and apologize.” The group presented a declaration on a beautiful parchment to Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. In it, the Amish ask forgiveness “for our collective sin of pride and selfishness by ignoring the plight of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel.” The document promises that from now on, the Amish will speak out strongly in support of the Jews and the State of Israel. During their stay in Jerusalem, the group sought to interact with ordinary Israelis, who needed little prodding to satisfy their curiosity regarding these odd-looking foreigners who came with this unusual message of warmth and love. Y By Ryan Jones

Christian Zionist Mike Evans in Israel ‘OBAMA is appeasing the Arabs’


merican Evangelical Christian Mike Evans, an author and TV and radio personality, paid a solidarity visit to Israel during the Carmel fire. “It is our work of this moment…to show God’s love to the Chosen People who are in desperate need today,” he said. Describing himself as an “ambassador to bring comfort and hope to these grieving people,” Evans has been 20  |  January 2011  |

raising money from American Christians to help the victims. Evans also heads the Jerusalem Prayer Team, whose mission is “to guard, defend and protect the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.” In an interview on Israel Television, he blasted the Mideast policy of President Barack Obama. “Obama’s appeasing the Arabs,” he said. “He’s simply using Israel for his game. And the awful thing about this is the dilemma Israel’s faced with—an existential threat.” Evans said the US-sponsored peace process is a sham. “It’s simply smoke and mirrors,” he said. “And it gets people killed. When you offer false hope to individuals, such as Palestinian terrorists who are in fact

corrupt…what you really want to do is destabilize the state again.” He concluded that Israel can take comfort from its Christian friends. “The good news is the American people are behind the State of Israel,” Evans said, “and the majority of Zionists in America are not Jewish.” Y B y S h l omo Mor de c h a i INFLUENTIAL FRIENDS: Evans with the late PM Yitzhak Rabin

Me s s i an i c J e w s

‘Post-Zionist Theology Is Attack on God’s Character’


urrounded by enemies, Israel has long known that it can count on the Evangelical Christian Church as a stalwart ally, a shield against an increasingly aggressive campaign to reverse this nation’s divine restoration. But that is starting to change. Within the Evangelical Church itself, there is a growing trend that denies that the State of Israel has anything to do with God’s Word and His plan of redemption. At the forefront of this movement is the documentary With God on Our Side (see isra­el today, Dec. 2010), which takes aim at Christians who use the Bible to justify their support of Israel. In response to the film, Messianic Jew Eliyahu Ben-Haim, director of Intercessors for Israel, issued a booklet called, Setting the Record Straight. He was interviewed by isra­el today staffer Ryan Jones. isra­el today: Why did you write this pamphlet?

Ben-Haim: I realized this [film] is not only a direct attack on Israel, but on God’s body. It not only attacked Christian Zionists, it attacked God Himself, His covenants and what He is doing. isra­el today: The film emphasizes justice and compassion

for the indigenous Arab Christians. Does this not line up with God’s Word? Ben-Haim: God is for social justice. The prophets are full of social justice, demanding that the children of Israel treat one another properly and that there be justice in the Land. But what it comes down to in our current situation is whether our way of doing things, our idea of justice, is better than God’s. This brand of social justice has a veneer of being biblically based, but it is humanism. It elevates the heart and mind of man over God. isra­el today: So man’s idea of justice, even a Christian

idea of justice, is flawed? Ben-Haim: We cannot form doctrines based on human reasoning. It must be based on the Word, and in Jeremiah 31 God states that Israel will be a nation before Him forever. Remember, He said this while Israel was in exile. This new social-justice theology is based solely on the New Testament, but removed from the context of the Old Testament, there is no New Testament. isra­el today: So God’s covenant with Israel, including the

Land, remains valid. Ben-Haim: The people behind this film don’t understand the biblical concept of covenant. God’s covenant with Abraham, of which the promise of the Land was a major part, is of the same kind as Yeshua’s [Jesus’] covenant with all of us. It is an unconditional and eternal covenant that God cut with Himself. As such, there is no party involved that can negate the terms of the covenant.

Get Your Copy of Setting the Record Straight for only $7.99 Order Online:

isra­el today: Is there any real danger in being overly sym-

pathetic to the Arabs, even if that means failing to support what God is doing in Israel? Ben-Haim: It is not a cardinal sin, but the nature of God’s relationship with Israel is the foundation of His covenants, His promises and His Word to all mankind. To oppose that is to open a huge crack in the spiritual armor that will lead to something far more dangerous. isra­el today: What is the danger?

Ben-Haim: This is not a fight over whether or not God will have His way because ultimately He will. It is a fight over the soul of the church. While Yeshua’s teachings of compassion are being wielded by those promoting this film’s theology, I believe that ultimately, with the armor cracked, this is leading to a denial of Yeshua Himself. Universalism, social justice, humanism, declaring that we all serve the same God whether we call him Allah or the God of Israel or anything else—this is all leading to the same place and that is away from God.  |  January 2011  |  21


Top German General Confronts the Holocaust FACING THE PAST: Wieker at Yad Vashem

Dancing Soldier Gets Jail Time


erman Army Chief General Volker Wieker visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem accompanied by Israeli Army Chief of Staff LieutenantGeneral Gabi Ashkenazi. It was a remarkable visit, considering that Nazi Germany killed 6 million Jews during the Holocaust during World War II. “I am proud to stand here as the IDF chief of staff, side by side with the German chief of staff,” Ashkenazi said. “I think this illustrates the strong ties between the two countries.” The two generals also visited the Children’s Memorial dedicated to the 1.5 million young ones who perished. At the end of the tour, Wieker wrote in the guest book: “We must remember the past and tell it; otherwise we will never find peace.” Y

THE PANTHER hovers like a helicopter and flies like a plane


n Israeli soldier is paying the price for a practical joke that became all too public. In 2007, Avi Yaakobov was guarding a bound Palestinian female terror suspect when another soldier convinced him to dance around her to a Middle Eastern drum beat. As he feigned a belly dance, he was recorded on a video cell phone and soon found himself on YouTube. Yaakobov spent two years trying to get the video removed without success. Finally, it came to the attention of the media and, in turn, the army. As a result, he was disciplined for violating military ethics and sentenced to three weeks in jail. The military court described the video as “totally unacceptable behavior.” “I don’t think I committed a war crime,” Yaakobov said. “Maybe I humiliated her, yes, but it’s not a crime. I’m being treated like a war criminal. It was not a big deal.” Ihsan Dabavasha, the Palestinian suspect who was arrested after attempting to stab an Israeli soldier with a knife, said she had been “humiliated” by the video. Typically, the publicity surrounding the event wound up portraying a terrorist as a victim. Y 22  |  January 2011  |

State-of-the-Art Israeli Drone


srael Aerospace Industries (IAI) has unveiled its newest unmanned aerial vehicle that can hover like a helicopter and fly like a plane. The Panther is able to take off without a runway and can fly for up to six hours at a maximum altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 meters), for distances of up to 36 miles (60 km.). Rotating tiltrotors enable the plane to transition between hovering and fixed-wing flight. Its three low-noise motors help it to remain undetected while packing a 140-pound (63-kilo) payload. The drone’s laser-assisted cameras provide surveillance both day and night and in all kinds of weather. “The Panther’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, along with its effective use of changing flight dynamics, make it a unique and invaluable asset on the tactical battlefield for the Israel Defense Forces and for foreign customers,” said IAI CEO Itzhak Nissan. “We consider the innovative technology used in this system to be ground-breaking.” The drone is scheduled to begin operations this year. Y C om pi l e d by Neta n e l D oron

A r c h ae o l o g y

Layers of Civilization

Known in ancient times as Shikmona, it served as an important port and was probably the main city in what today is the area of greater Haifa. Past excavations at Tel Shikmona have yielded a wealth of relics, some around 3,600 years old. They include an Egyptian tomb; luxury items from the Canaanite Era (Late Bronze Age: 1600 BC to 1200 BC); a 6th century BC Persian citadel; oil presses, and docking facilities for boats on the nearby coast. There are also artifacts from a prosperous Jewish town during the early Talmudic Period (1st-2nd centuries AD). Plans are underway to turn the area into an archeological park. Y


he ancient ruins of Tel Shikmona, south of Haifa, expose many periods of history. Archeological excavations from the early 1960s revealed a city dating back to the 16th century BC with intermittent habitation during the Byzantine Period (5th to 7th century AD). Excavations in the 70s indicated ongoing settlement from the 16th century BC to the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Exile in 537 BC. At that time, the expansion of the Persian Empire led to economic development throughout the area. Now a team from Haifa University’s Institute of Archaeology has uncovered an intricate 6th century mosaic floor, which appears to be part of a Byzantine church. The next step is to excavate sections of the structure itself.

6th CENTURY MOSAIC from the Byzantine Period

Dead Sea Scrolls on the Internet


he discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 was an epic event in the history of archaeology. But for decades the sacred scrolls were only available to a select group of scholars. In fact, ownership of the scrolls became a point of political contention between the Israeli government and American and European scholars, with the resulting consequences that translations appeared very slowly, if at all. Now, a major step has been taken to make these precious scrolls available to the public at large. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has partnered with Google Israel in a project to digitalize the entire collection and to make it available online. Special scanners are being

employed to capture every nuance of the scrolls without harming them. The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library is expected to cost $3.5 million, with the first images due to appear on the Internet in the spring of 2011. The Dead Sea Scrolls include Old Testament scriptures; the Manual of Discipline of the ascetic Essene community which is believed to have written the documents; and a description of an apocalyptic battle between the sons of light, led by the Teacher of Righteousness, and the sons of darkness. The scrolls opened a window into first century Judaism around the time of Jesus.

DIGITAL LIBRARY: The scrolls will finally be available to the public

“We are establishing a milestone by preserving this unique heritage for future generations,” said IAA Director-General Shuka Dorfman. “We are proud to be embarking on a project that will provide unlimited access to one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century, crucial to biblical studies and the history of Judaism and early Christianity.” Y C om pi l e d by Neta n e l D oron

January 2010  |  23


My Private Superstar Pink

THE RICH AND FAMOUS Jewish billionaires Arkadi Gaydamak (left) and Roman Abramovich know how to party

I Samantha Fox Elton John

Paul McCartney

t has become fashionable among Israel’s super rich to book international stars for private parties. This was started by billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak in 2006, when he hired Spanish pop singer Enrique Iglesias to perform for a Hanukkah party. Not to be outdone, billionaire Roman Abramovich spent hundreds of thousands of shekels to bring American pop star Pink to sing at a party at the Tel Aviv Marina. “The Israelis have gone nuts,” said a local promoter. “People here love to impress, and having [local pop star] Kobi Peretz at your wedding doesn’t impress anyone anymore. You need to bring someone who will make the guests say, ‘Wow.’” Several other groups have come to Israel to appear at private events. They include the Gypsy Kings who performed at a cost of $50,000; 80s idol Samantha Fox at $33,000; Boney M, $31,000 (plus flights and lodging expenses); and Kool & the Gang ($19,000 plus expenses). That’s pretty cheap compared to Elton John and Prince who charge millions. Lady Gaga is a relative “bargain” at $500,000. Y

British Films to Be Shot in Israel


sraeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and British Foreign Secretary William Hague have reached an agreement that may turn the Holy Land into a preferred location for British film production. Under the deal, which was 10 years in the making, Israel offers British movie companies attractive tax incentives and other financial benefits.

007: Daniel Craig

Ironically, the agreement comes at a time when British cultural and academic institutions are calling for a boycott of Israel because of its policies toward the Palestinians. It could be a financial boon for Israel because the UK ranks third in annual film production, after the US and India, with expenditures of $8 billion a year. This could

Jerusalem of Pink J

also give other filmmakers from abroad an incentive to invest in Israel. There are two historically-based dramas in the works involving British Mandate Palestine, with filming scheduled to take place at the original locations in Israel. British crews are already hammering out logistics with Israeli production companies. But with all due respect to history, what many Israelis would love to see is some old-fashioned British intrigue; for instance, James Bond at an Israeli bar ordering his famous vodka martini “shaken not stirred.” Y

erusalem of Gold was the most famous song of the Six Day War in 1967, reflecting the Old City’s mystical tint in the Middle Eastern sunset. But what about Jerusalem of Pink? Well, for 31 days the Old City walls were silhouetted in pink, creating a spectacular nighttime Jerusalem panorama during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The aim was to bring the deadly disease to the attention of the public and to focus on research and prevention. Y

24  |  December 2010  |

Be h i n d t h e S c ene s

Denzel Washington’s Messianic Connection


merican actor Denzel Washington, one of Hollywood’s top stars, had an unusual destination when he visited Israel. He came to see his good friend of 20 years David Davis, pastor of Kehilat HaCarmel, a Messianic Jewish congregation in Haifa! The two met in drama school in New York and acted together in a Broadway show. Washington, who has won two Oscars, is the son of a Pentecostal minister, and a believer. “Spirituality is important in every aspect of my life,” he once said in an interview. “I mean, that’s why I’m here.” In fact, his movie career came through a prophecy from his mother. “She said that I would…travel the world and preach to millions of people,” Washington recalled. “So my work has been my ministry. In fact, I asked my pastor, years ago, ‘Do you think I should become a minister or a preacher?’ And he says, ‘Well, that’s what you’re doing already.’ And he felt, as I feel,

So Ahmed, what do you think about the WikiLeaks revelations?

MAN OF FAITH: Washington with his wife Pauletta

that that’s what she was talking about back then…I’ve been blessed to be put in this situation…and to preach, if you will, about what God has done in my life.” Washington, 56, arrived in Israel with his family in their private plane and stayed at the David’s Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem. They toured the holy sites, including the Western Wall and got a taste of the delectable Middle East staple hummus (chickpea paste).

Hmm…I better not answer. Everything I say will be on the Internet later…

The movie star was accompanied by his wife of 30 years, Pauletta Washington, with whom he has four children. But women will be women, so Pauletta took a time out from the holy places—to shop! She visited the posh Mamilla Mall near the Old City and bought two red gold wedding rings for her and her husband. Other jewelry purchases totaled 50,000 shekels (about $14,000). Denzel purchased some fine Israeli wine, and cigars (no doubt Cuban ones which are sold here but banned in the US). The actor is a member of the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, which is known for its celebrity members, including former NBA great Magic Johnson and musician Stevie Wonder. As it says in Genesis 1:16: “God… made the stars!” B y S h l omo Mor de c h a i

How can I tell him that we Arabs fear Iran as much as Israel does?

Luckily, no one can read my mind.

Or can they?  

Plant a Tree in Israel

Photo: Biella Koch

Rebuilding after the Fire


srael has mourned the loss of 44 lives in the worst forest fire in its modern history. Over 5 million trees and 15,000 acres of rare natural woodland were destroyed.

With your help, israel today will plant a grove of 3,000 trees to contribute to the reforestation project on Mount Carmel. Your support in this project is urgently needed as every tree counts! Each donor of a tree will be given a certificate honoring their support in this effort.

Order your tree today! Cost per tree: $20 Sku: KCK003

ar-El Tours Experience first-hand the land where our faith was born • Grow in a deeper understanding of the Scriptures• Witness the miraculous restoration of the nation of Israel

Biblical Study Tours • Customized Church Pilgrim Tours •Christian Conferences & Seminars • Bible Colleges & Student Tours

Stand in the Gap Intercession for Israel

‘The land mourns and pines away…Bashan and Carmel lose their foliage.’ Isaiah 33:9

‫  *אבינו  שבשמיים‬Avinu She’BaShamayim – Protect Israel from natural disasters and grant that the Carmel would quickly be reforested. Help the victims rebuild and comfort those who mourn in Zion (Isaiah 61:3). Let the government learn the lessons and be prepared for every eventuality, including war. (Cover; Pages 3, 16-17)

‫  *אבינו  שבשמיים‬Avinu She’BaShamayim – Keep alive the Messianic hope in Israel. Use the false messiahs who arise to prompt people to look for the true Messiah and King of Israel. (Pages 4-5) ‫  *אבינו  שבשמיים‬Avinu She’BaShamayim – Use the WikiLeaks revelations to strengthen Israel’s case against Iran. Give the Israeli government and military wisdom about how to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. (Page 6)

‫  *אבינו  שבשמיים‬Avinu She’BaShamayim – Expose the threat of Palestinian terror so that Israel and the nations will not be deceived by a false peace. Protect Israel from suicide bombers and all acts of terror. (Page 10)

‫  *אבינו  שבשמיים‬Avinu She’BaShamayim – Expose the anti-biblical doctrines of the Palestinians regarding Jerusalem, and vindicate Your holy name (Ezekiel 36:23). Strengthen Israeli control over Jerusalem and do not allow the city to be handed over to Islamic forces which deny Your word. (Page 11)

‫  *אבינו  שבשמיים‬Avinu She’BaShamayim – Bring more precious rain to the parched ground and snow on Mount Hermon. Water the whole Land and restore and fill Israel’s depleted reservoirs: the Sea of Galilee and the Mountain and Coastal aquifers. (Cover; Page 12)

‫  *אבינו  שבשמיים‬Avinu She’BaShamayim – Bless the Amish who have repented toward Israel, and continue to reveal the vision of Israel to churches and denominations which have practiced Replacement Theology. Strengthen the Christian Zionists who are standing with Israel and let their numbers grow. (Pages 20, 21)

Let u s go to the house of Our feet are standing in the Lord. O Jerusalem (Psalm 122:1, 2) the gates, 8, Ha Hoshen St., Mevasseret Zion 90805 | Tel: 972-2-533 8000 Fax: 972-2-579 02 03 |

‫  *אבינו  שבשמיים‬Avinu She’BaShamayim – Show the Messianic body in Israel how to stand against Palestinian Replacement Theology. Reveal Your word about Israel to Palestinian believers and grant that they would not be deceived by the Arab-Islamist narrative. (Page 21) * Our Father in Heaven


Wildlife Protection Law

A LUSH VEGETATION in the desert

Ein Avdat National Park

bill has been presented to the Knesset (parliament) that would ban the hunting and trapping of all wildlife in Israel. Under the amended Wildlife Protection Law, hunting licenses would be restricted to animals posing a threat to people, the ecology or other wildlife. The placing of poison in open areas is also banned as is trading in furs. Fines will be increased along with the added threat of imprisonment for up to three years. “This is a landmark bill aimed at protecting what is still left,” said Environment Minister Gilad Erdan. “In light of threats to wildlife in Israel due to massive development, reduction of open space, hunting and poisoning, it is vital to provide wildlife with maximum protection and to amend the existing law.” Y


he winter rainy season is a perfect time to visit the Negev Desert in southern Israel. About 100 miles south of Tel Aviv, and not far from the Negev capital city of Beersheba, is the magnificent Ein Avdat National Park. After a good rain in Nachal Tzin, the dry land is suddenly awash with springs and waterfalls, amidst plentiful plant and animal life. A walking tour through the picturesque canyons passes natural springs and winds up at a gleaming lake formed by water falling from the high, surrounding cliffs. Ibex freely roam the park among the many poplars. The lush vegetation around the springs attracts a variety of songbirds such as the turtle dove and bulbul, as well as hawks, eagles and birds of prey. Based on artifacts and remains at the site, archaeologists believe the Neanderthals inhabited the region 80 to 90,000 years ago. Y

NO HUNTING! An ibex on the lookout

Stone Throwing at Biblical Zoo


n the past, visitors to the chimpanzee exhibit at Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo have been protected from the animals through netting. But this has become obsolete because the irate primates have a new weapon: The chimps throw stones whenever there are a lot of people, which upsets them, and only draws a bigger crowd. “It’s no fun to be stoned by a chimp,” says zoo director Shai Doron. So now spectators are protected by a reinforced glass wall. But don’t feel sorry for the chimps. The changes are part of a 2 million shekel ($550,000) overhaul of the exhibit, which includes filling in the surrounding moat so that 28  |  January 2011   |

IRATE PRIMATE: The chimps get agitated by the crowds

the chimps can come right up to the glass and interact with their fellow primates “nose to nose,” as Doron puts it. There will also be an Indiana Jones-style hanging-rope bridge which will give visitors a better view of the “jungle.” In response to charges by the media that the zoo is dealing with a “monkey intifada (uprising),” Doron says, “It’s a nice joke, but the main idea is to create a better quality of life for the chimps and a better experience for the visitor.” As for the glass wall, Doron draws another parallel with the Palestinian situation, saying: “We don’t call it a ‘separation fence.’” Y


IMF Gives Israel High Praise

Boom in Tourism


srael reached a 4 percent growth rate for 2010, more than twice the figure for the US and Western Europe. The country has come a long way since the early 1980s when inflation was running rampant at 430 percent and the currency dropped dramatically in value. The inflation rate for 2010 was only 2.4 percent. Israel’s ability to deal with the Palestinian problem and to weather the global economic crisis gained it high marks with the International Monetary Fund. In a report to Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, the IMF praised Israel for its financial policies; but it also warned that the challenge now is to maintain growth and low inflation in the face of continuing global uncertainty, shekel appreciation and an overheated housing market. To achieve this, the report urged Israel to cut government spending and impose new taxes. The IMF noted that despite regional threats, Israel has maintained a first-world standard of living mostly because of its hitech sector which, as a hotbed of cuttingedge technologies, is the growth-engine of the economy. In addition, the use of conservative banking and market policies has protected the economy from the financial meltdown suffered by the West. The acceptance of Israel as a member state of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2010 was also an indication of its many fiscal accomplishments. Y

PILGRIMS’ PROGRESS Tourists at Gethsemane facing the Golden Gate


srael’s Tourism Ministry reports a record number of visitors in 2010—3.4 million! That exceeds the previous record of 3 million in 2008. The ministry ties the increase to an improved security situation since the dark days of the Palestinian Intifada (uprising) from 2000-2004 and the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The number of visitors is up fourfold compared to 2002, when the country was hard hit by Palestinian terrorist attacks. Tourism dropped a bit last year due to the global financial crisis and the remnants of the Gaza War but has recovered since. The attraction that Israel has become for pop legends such as Madonna, Elton John and Rod Stewart and movie stars like Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore may also be a factor in its added appeal as a tourist destination. It appears that the Tourism Ministry’s $38 million marketing budget for 2010 has paid off. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s plan to increase tourism in the capital five-fold within a decade, to 10 million, is off to a good start. Y HOT SPOT: The Dead Sea, with its healing properties, is a popular tourist attraction

The Israeli Flag: Made in China?


he Knesset (parliament) is debating a bill that would make Israeli flags manufactured abroad illegal. A second bill includes Israeli army uniforms under the same injunction. The legislation was proposed after the production of flags and uniforms in countries such as China and Turkey created economic hardships for Israeli manufacturers. According to the proposed laws, only Israeli companies may manufacture such products, even if the price exceeds that of foreign competitors by as much as 50 percent.

“It is our duty to do everything in our power to encourage and develop Israeli industry,” said Ofir Akunis, the chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee. “We should start with the purchase of Israeli products by state institutions.” The law would prevent glitches like the one on Independence Day in 2008, when Bank Hapoalim passed out free flags to its customers that were made in China. The flag had misplaced the Star of David! Y ECONOMIC AND PATRIOTIC: New legislation waves the flag  |  January 2011  |  29

In B r i ef

tid bits   ‘Lost Tribe’ Celebrates Hanukkah A community in northeast India that claims descent from one of the Lost Tribes of Israel celebrated Hanukkah with a taste of the Promised Land. The Bnei Menashe (Sons of Manasseh) ate the traditional holiday sufganiot (jelly doughnuts), made with kosher baking mix sent from Jerusalem. The Indian community of 7,200 people is praying for their own Hanukkah miracle: a decision by the Israeli government to allow them to immigrate to the Jewish homeland. About 1,700 Bnei Menashe have already made aliyah (immigrated to Israel). The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were exiled in the 8th century BC. Throughout their long history, the Bnei Menashe have continued to practice Judaism, observing the Sabbath, keeping kosher and celebrating the holidays. LIGHT to the nations

Harry Potter’s Grave


ew people know this but Harry Potter is buried in Israel. No, it is not the enormously popular teenage wizard created by novelist J.K. Rowling. Rather, this Harry Potter was a British soldier killed in 1939, and his grave has turned the backwater Israeli town of Ramla into a tourist attraction! Tourism officials say there is no connection with the Harry Potter of book and movie fame, but the name is a draw, especially for Israeli tourists. Potter’s tombstone is located among 4,500 other graves in the local cemetery. It says he was killed in a battle with an armed band in British Mandate Palestine at the age of 19. A growing number of people visit the grave each year and it is now listed on the website of the Ministry of Tourism. So the Holy Land with its many sacred sites now has a new place of pilgrimage. Y

Kibbutz Ingenuity

I   TOP CHILDREN’S NAMES: In a survey marking the International Day of the Child, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported that the most popular name for a boy in Israel is Noam and for a girl, Noa. About one third of the population or approximately 2.5 million citizens are under 18 years of age.

t’s been around for quite a while, but few people know that the popular device for the painless removal of body hair is an Israeli invention. The electronic epilator, named Epilady, was invented by kibbutz members Yair Dar and Shimon Yahav in 1986. The apparatus employs electronic tweezers to remove the hairs from their follicles. Taking the US market by storm, millions were sold in a very short period of time. However, since their creation, the use of lasers to remove body hair has become the state-of-the-art technology. Fortunately, this is also an area in which Israeli innovation is dominant. In addition to hair removal, such laser devices are used in the treatment of varicose veins, lesions, acne and other skin problems. Y

Obama Mugs in Gaza THUMBS UP: Obama is popular in Hamastan

30  |  January 2011   |


onsidering President Barack Obama’s outreach to the Muslims, his hard line on Israel and his push for a Palestinian state, it is not surprising that he’s quite popular in Hamas-ruled Gaza. He’s not only referred to by his Arab middle name Hussein, but also, more respectfully, as Abu Hussein (Father Hussein). And now there’s a line of products to give the President the honor he is due. One of the most popular items is a mug featuring Obama in a keffiyeh (Arab headdress) with the slogan in English: “Oh ABU HUSSAIN—PALESTINE LOVES YOU!!!” Other items include Obama dolls with a variety of attire, including guns, grenades and swords. Stores selling the Obama merchandise also have items featuring other “heroes,” such as posters of Saddam Hussein and a toy Osama bin Laden that can dance! Y

In B r i ef

Star of David in Iran

W The Honeymooners


ccording to a survey, the favorite honeymoon destination for Israeli couples is the Caribbean. The second most popular destination is the US, followed by Thailand and then in fourth place, Israel itself. Honeymoons usually last from three to four weeks, and popular seasons for tying the knot are spring and late fall. Most Israelis prefer to be married outdoors, usually in a garden setting. Only 26 percent rent a wedding hall. One out of 10 couples will take their vows in an unconventional setting, such as the desert.

hat is that Star of David doing on the roof of the airport terminal in Tehran? Asked about the star, which was discovered on Google Earth, Iranian authorities said the airport was built by Israelis. Indeed it was, back when the Shah was in power before the Islamic Revolution in 1979. When Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi ruled Iran, he had close ties with Israel, and the national airline El Al began flying there in 1960. Israel even provided weapons to Iran and was paid with oil. Israeli experts trained Iranians in agriculture and commerce. This is not the first time that a Star of David has drawn attention in Iran. Last August, a star was spotted on a building in a main square in Tehran, prompting some to claim that the “Zionist regime is conquering Revolution Square.” The Iranian media describe the Star of David as “the symbol of evil.” JEWISH PRESENCE: Google Earth reveals an Iranian secret

Three Cents Buys a School

FROM BORROWER TO BENEFACTOR: Pinhas returns a favor


orn in poverty in the city of Corlu, Turkey, Israeli businessman Izhak Pinhas was nine years old when he borrowed the equivalent of three cents from a schoolmate. Now, 71 year later, Pinhas is a millionaire—and he never forgot the favor. So he has paid his friend back by building a new elementary school in Turkey for 650 students. While still a young child, Itzhak’s father died leaving his mother destitute. So he had to work to help support the family. When an earthquake hit the region in 1939, the children in his school were asked to donate three cents each toward the quake victims. But Pinhas didn’t have three cents so he asked a classmate to loan him the money, promising that he would one day pay her back.

As the years passed, Pinhas moved to Istanbul, married and immigrated to Israel. Today he owns a grocery store in Or Yehuda near Tel Aviv. “Every time I made six shekels, I put one shekel aside,” he said. “I never forgot my school friend.” The school dedication was attended by Turkey’s Minister of Education Hüseyin Çelik and several Turkish television stations carried the story. “Unfortunately, we have no children,” said Pinhas’ wife Fortuni. “But now God has given us a gift of hundreds of children.”


Buy a TV, Get a Lamb


n an unusual promotion, an electronics store in the northern city of Tiberias offered a special gift to customers making a purchase of at least 8,000 shekels ($2,220)—a lamb! A pickup truck filled with sheep was stationed near the store, giving the city on the Sea of Galilee the appearance of a Bedouin market like in the Negev Desert city of Beersheba. The gift was aimed at Arab customers celebrating the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, which comes at the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. It was an attractive deal, considering that a lamb costs 2,500 shekels ($690). Muslims eat lamb on the feast to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. But in direct contradiction of the biblical account (Genesis 22), Islam teaches that the son was Ishmael, not Isaac! Y C om pi l e d by M ich a e l S ch n ei der  |  January 2011  |  31

Hundreds of Israeli soldiers

thank you!

The Hanukkah Gift Bag of israel today was a resounding success! The troops were overwhelmed to see the love, sympathy and care shown by friends of Israel from around the world. It encouraged them and gave them the feeling that they are not alone. We want to thank each and every one of our readers who donated generously!

israel today january 2011  

israel today jan 2011

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